Twitter sharing lessons learned
By Ed Mitchell 14th September 2010
If you’re interested in the web you can’t have missed Twitter‘s meteoric rise in the last few years. It began as something for individuals who used it to share their thoughts/feelings/activities/rants in 140 characters, but organisations quickly spotted that it offered them a chance to contact people in an informal way.
This is a post about how we have been using Twitter, how we have started sharing our account, and what we’re thinking of next.
- Introduction to our use of twitter
- Looking for more twitter sharers
- Lessons Learned: Ed
- Lessons Learned: Richard
- Lessons Learned: Chris
Introduction to our use of twitter
We use the ‘Transition Towns’ official twitter account to connect initiatives with their updates, share environmental and political thinking (largely drawn from Pete the chairman’s astounding range of daily links), and help our partners get their news and information out. We also use it to share Rob Hopkin’s tweets and what Transition Network is up to, but not as much as the preceding aims.
There does exist also a ‘transition town’ twitter account but that’s not us, and it never responds to our requests to identify itself, which was relatively irritating, but hey ho, that’s the web, wild and crazy and endlessly entertaining.
On the whole, Ed the web co-ordinator does the ‘tweeting’, but the aim is to distribute the tweeting responsibility around the movement because we are supporting a movement, not managing a tightly controlled top down organisation.
During August, we shared the editing of the Transition Towns Twitter account with two Transitioners to see what happens when the ‘organisation’ releases control over the communications and hands them over to the ‘movement’. We couldn’t find any other organisations that had tried it so it was a leap into the unknown.
From Saturday 7th August to Wednesday 25th August, the Transition Towns Twitter identity was hosted by Richard Barnett (Transition New Forest and New Forest Food Challenge project) and Chris Wells (‘twibbons designer’ and Transition Kensal to Kilburn).
Our findings found that it was a success and we want to keep the sharing up.
Looking for more twitter sharers
We’re thinking that some form of editorial rota is in order.
- Are you a transitioner who is tweeting?
- Are you connecting with other initiatives over twitter?
- Do you have constructive ideas and are you prepared to stay within the editorial guidelines?
- Do you want to try sharing the twitter account?
If you do, please make a comment with your twitter account URL and we’ll work out what to do next.
Ed Mitchell (Transition Network web co-ordinator)
- Control your organisational urge to want to control things. Get that ego back in its box!
- Trust the people sharing the tweeting
- Put in a clear editorial and facilitation policy (set the groundrules) and stick to it
- There are patterns of TT tweeting which could be shared – sharing current thinking, connecting initiatives, answering organisational enquiries –
- It was brilliant and we’ll definitely share it in an ongoing way from now on
Richard Barnett (TT New Forest Food)
- I enjoyed it!
- Mainly used Peter L’s stuff as tweet fodder and got quite a number of retweets
- I added various new columns to my Tweetdeck so I could see what was happening (Direct Messages, New Followers, Mentions)
- I also got tweet alerts on my phone so I could make sure I didn’t double tweet the same thing as Chris (although I think I actually did once!)
- Don’t know what the usual level of activity is on the TT Twitter account but there seemed to be a fair number of new followers each day
- Only had one sorta conversation – a guy who said ‘9 meals from anarchy’ was simply not true…turned out he was talking hypothetically and was including all the cattle in Africa – we could all live for 3 months on them if they were all slaughtered!!!!
- Hope there wasn’t any adverse feedback. Happy to do it again any time
Chris Wells (TT Kensal to Kilburn)
- I agree with Richard that having two (or more) people tweeting simultaneously had the potential for confusion: either double tweeting or double replying. In future, we might explore techniques for avoiding this: perhaps we’d be better off agreeing on tweets in advance via email or using the back channel more?
- I also don’t think it helped that I didn’t set up my software as well as Richard: in Tweetdeck I had search channels for my personal and office accounts running alongside the TransitionTowns channels but I didn’t also add the DMs and other channels he mentioned. This led to there being too much for me to monitor simultaneously. I think it would have made more sense to keep the TT account entirely separate in a temporary Hootdeck account instead.
- I also didn’t Tweet as much as I wanted to because I didn’t feel expert enough in Transition issues to feel competent enough to judge trustworthy stories or info from outside the mainstream media and acknowledged sites – I didn’t want to bring the TT feed into disrepute. So I too mostly kept to Peter Lipman’s “approved” stories, many of which Richard “scooped” me on. That meant I didn’t really post as much as I’d like to have done.
- However, because of this, I also tried to pose a question or two to the transition initiatives about their activities which seemed reasonably popular and something I think you could continue more regularly as a means of sharing the initiatives’ own experiences, i.e. “which are your top 3 films to introduce concepts around Transition to new joiners?” was one good one.
- As a result of this, I suggest it might be worth setting up some kind of Google Reader feed of reliable or “approved” content for the TT Twitter team to begin sharing. While Peter’s emails are great, there must be more sources we can use. Perhaps this might become a function of the Sharing Engine?
- Scheduling was also an issue: I often don’t really have enough time to post properly to my own Twitter account – I try to fit it in whenever I get a moment. But I should have scheduled a daily task to contribute properly. It was a busy time at work and in my private life so didn’t have as much time as I needed to process Peter’s emails either (I felt a need to really KNOW what I was posting beforehand, in case anyone challenged me).
- I also didn’t think to set up alerts on my phone to avoid double tweeting – that’s another great idea that might have helped me keep on track with what Richard was doing.
- However, I don’t want to sound disheartened – I enjoyed it immensely too and I’d like to thank you for trusting us and offering us the opportunity to help. I’ve learned a lot. And I’d never been asked to share anyone else’s Twitter account before – I think a lot of people would really appreciate a chance to do this (and I’d love to have a crack again). In fact, it makes me think we should more deliberately engage with everyone who’s tweeting TT stuff to encourage story sharing (perhaps with the #ttmvt hashtag or a search list) so we can all share and discover TT-related stories to RT.